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Belgian F-16s scramble to intercept Russian bombers over the North Sea

January 15, 2018 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Two Belgian F-16s scrambled this morning to intercept two Russian bombers over the North Sea. The Russian Tupolevs flew in the direction of Dutch airspace.

Two BAF vipers in one shot. The one coming at Florennes, the other one banking away right after take-off during a TLP-session on February 4th, 2004 [Pegase Foxalpha photo by Antoine Grondeau]

The Belgian and British air forces were alarmed this morning because two Russian Tupolev Tu-160s had been spotted. Per NATO request, several jet fighters took off to intercept the Russians.

As two Russian bombers flew in the direction of the Dutch and British airspace, two Belgian F-16 fighter jets took off from Florennes Air Base around 10 o'clock this morning to intercept them over the North Sea.

Because of the urgency of the intervention, the F-16s broke the sound barrier above the Netherlands. The Dutch Air Force reports that this caused a sonic boom in the northeast of the Netherlands.

The Russian aircraft flew close to the Dutch Wadden Islands. Although Dutch F-16s are also stationed there, they did not take off as it is Belgium's turn to guard the Benelux airspace.

This morning it was a so-called Quick Reaction Alert, an alarm as unidentified aircraft flying in the Benelux airspace or above the North Sea. After the intervention, the Belgian aircraft landed at the airbase of Leeuwarden, in the Netherlands, to refuel.

Additional images:

BAF F-16AM #FA-115 taking off from a wet Florennes runway on January 28th, 2004. Note the vapor behind the hot exhaust [Photo by Emiel Bonte]